Monday, 16 September 2013

Steak tartare with crispy egg yolk, mustard mayonnaise, nasturtiums, tarragon dressing and fennel pollen

Firstly apologies for the lack of blog posts recently. Holidays, birthdays and general business have all got in the way and I just haven’t had the chance to sit down at a computer. Hopefully I’m on track again now and can get back to the weekly updates…

The real inspiration for this dish was a lovely trip to Brighton to see my mum and dad’s allotment. They have had it for a good few years now, and the work they have done really shows. Neat rows of perfect looking vegetables everywhere! I was lucky enough to get to pick a bit of everything, and came back to London armed with bags of courgette flowers, new potatoes, French beans and herbs. Heaven! And because they were so fresh the taste was just sensational. 


Included in my bag of goodies were nasturtium leaves and flowers. I had never tried them before, but once I had my first one I couldn’t stop. They have a wonderful peppery taste that yields to a final sweetness, and I knew they would be perfect as a salad element in this dish. The other unusual thing that I bought home was fennel pollen. This was something that my mum gave me to try as we walked round. It is way more intense and aniseedy than other types of fennel, and used sparingly here adds another flavour dimension. Obviously these are quite difficult to get hold of unless growing your own, so rocket or watercress can be used instead of nasturtiums and toasted fennel seeds for the pollen.

Steak tartare is a simple thing that can be made quickly and reasonably easily. The most important thing is the quality of the meat and the balance of ingredients. As you are eating the meat raw, you really want to be using the best beef possible from a trustworthy butcher. Fillet steak is the most expensive cut, but for this the tails will be perfectly suitable and a lot cheaper. A small piece goes a long way too. Instead of mixing all of the ingredients together, in this dish I have decided to present the mustard, dressing and egg yolk as separate items. I feel that this stops the beef flavour being diluted, and that you can taste each part individually. Texture is also important, and the nasturtiums and breadcrumb coating on the egg add much-needed crunch to the soft meat and mayo. It’s all about tasting for seasoning at every stage.

Serves 2


For the tartare:

150g good quality fillet tail, trimmed of all sinew

3 cornichons, very finely chopped
2 tsp shallots, very finely chopped
¼ garlic clove, very finely chopped
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

For the crispy egg yolk:

2 egg yolks

1 handful panko breadcrumbs
50g flour
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
1ltr vegetable oil for deep frying

For the tarragon dressing:

1 bunch tarragon

¼ bunch marjoram
½ lemon, juice only
1 tsp caster sugar
200ml olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the mustard mayo:

2 egg yolks

1 garlic clove
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp English mustard
400ml vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

To finish:

1 handful nasturtium leaves and flowers

A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
A pinch of fennel pollen

Take the steak out of the fridge to come to room temperature.

First make the mustard mayo. Put the garlic, egg yolks, mustard, white wine vinegar and a good amount of seasoning in a small food processor and blend well. Slowly add the vegetable oil, starting with just a few drops, then slowly trickling until fully emulsified. Taste and add more mustard or seasoning if necessary; you want it to be creamy with a good mustard kick. Remove to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until needed. 


Next make the tarragon dressing. Put the tarragon, marjoram, lemon juice, sugar and salt and pepper into a food processor and mix until very finely chopped. Add the oil slowly until well combined. Taste and season if needed then set aside.

Chop up all of the ingredients that accompany the steak; the cornichon, garlic, shallot and thyme should be really fine. Set aside until needed.

Heat the oil up to 180ÂșC.

While it is heating, prepare the crispy egg yolks. Very carefully separate the whites from the yolks. Lightly roll them in the seasoned flour until fully coated. Beat the other egg into a small bowl and dip the coated yolks into it before covering in the panko breadcrumbs. Set aside until the oil reaches temperature. 


Cut the fillet steak across the grain into 1cm slices, then into thin strips. Slice these strips into pieces slightly chunkier than mince. Transfer to a bowl and combine well with the flavourings, a good amount of seasoning and a couple of glugs of extra virgin olive oil. I like the tartare to be quite loose with oil, which also adds a good peppery taste.

When the oil is the right temperature, spoon in the egg yolks and cook for 45 seconds then remove. While the egg is cooking dress the nasturtium leaves and flowers in a little extra virgin oil, salt and pepper.

To plate up, spoon two neat piles of the tartare mixture onto each plate. Add the hot egg yolk and a small quenelle of the mustard mayo. Arrange the nasturtium leaves and flowers around the edge and add a few drops of the dressing. Sprinkle the fennel pollen over the top and serve.

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